“Your children are not your children

They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.”

Kahlil Gibran

Fortunate are those who are blessed with children and who get a chance of raising children.  It is not only life’s most rewarding experience but is also fraught with big challenges.  With the progress of human faculties and technology, the notions of parenting as well as expectations of both parents and children have gone a sea change.  The number of children moving away from the main stream of life is increasing manifold.  It is high time that the parents do some introspection and find out what went wrong and at what stage; what could have been the right steps and measures for the inculcation of right values and right perspective among their children.

It is true that family, school, peer group, teachers all play a vital role in shaping the personality of a child but it is primarily the parents who have a major role in providing a congenial atmosphere to the child.  It is imperative for parents not to consider children as their extension but as individuals with unique and distinct traits.  Further, no two children are alike, hence, even comparison between childen is detrimental to the personality development of a child.  It may lead to permanent dislike for parents and siblings in a child’s mind.

Parents will have to create a balance between being authoritarian and permissive.  They should not lose sight of the fact that the only quotient which is constant in a child’s life is the quotient of love.  Guide your child with love but firmness.  Try to empower him by giving him choices to choose from.  Parents must be clever and creative in doing so.  Don’t make it a struggle of winning or losing.  Let the child take some decisions to establish his self-esteem.  You will find that the more faith you repose in your child, the more self-confident he will be.  He will always try to maintain that faith but remember you have the right to tell him the consequences of a wrong decision.

The present consumerist society is seeing a new phenomenon where parents try to substitute love with gifts but Jesse Jackson rightly said, “Your children need your presence more than your presents.”  Spending quality time with children, keeping the avenues of communication open and daily interaction can do wonders which a thousand gifts and gadgets can’t do.  Spending quality time with children means not just asking the children about their physical needs but it means providing emotional support and security to children especially in present times when both the parents are working.  It is my observation that it is not necessarily the children of such parents only who feel neglected but in other families too, where the mothers are not professionals but are too busy in their other social engagements.  Let the child remain with you and study in howsoever small a place / town may be, but don’t send him away till he is emotionally mature enough to understand its long term benefits.

When we talk about gadgets, the two most prominent names that come to our mind are those of mobile phones and motorbikes.  All the parents are aware that the mobiles are not allowed in schools as they have no utility there.  Schools maintained their link with the parents a few years back also when mobiles were not there; children were as dear to their parents then as they are now; those parents were equally concerned with the safety and well being of their children, then why give them these phones.  Good schools provide the facility to their students to give a call to their parents in times of any emergency and urgency.  Mobiles distract the attention of students in class as some naughty ones are always allured to send SMSes even though the phone may be in “vibration mode”.  Same is the case with motorbikes.  Everyone knows that “Speed is the second name of youth,” and still parents proudly hand over the keys of this deadly vehicle to their children who misuse it for roaming about aimlessly or for visiting their friends.  These motorbikes, later on, become the cause of parents’ own worry.  In big cities, cars are also used by students whereas all this display of wealth has not even the remotest link with education.  Parents must emphasize the importance of the ordinary bicycle for commuting between home and school.  They should guide them in proper management of time rather than using motorbikes in the name of saving time.  It will not only save many precious lives lost on the roads but also improve the health of their children.  I personally feel that a persuasive and firm action by parents, in this direction, will be very useful for society at large.

John Billings once stated, “To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself once in a while.”  We sometimes underestimate the capabilities of small children but we forget that the process of hearing, imitating and assimilating starts in the womb itself.  Hence, parents must always use affirmative language for motivating and guiding the child.  Giving long lectures may not prove to be very effective but sharing a game or story with children may do the unthinkable.

Good friends are like sunshine in the life of children.  Peer presence can make or mar the life of a child.  Hence, it is mandatory for parents to keep a track of their child’s peer group and handle the situations with tact and intelligence.  Develop in your child the capabilities to say “No” to his friends fearlessly in case he disagrees with them.  Unlike yesteryears, today’s child has tremendous exposure to media and internet, hence, adopting a friendly approach and maintaining interaction is the best way to know about his friends and life.

Although the word “Stress” did not exist in a child’s dictionary earlier, but it creeps in their life at a very small age now due to various influences.  Keeping it away from them is the duty of every parent.  They can certainly succeed in it by allowing their children to play for sometime as games are great “Stress Busters”.  They not only improve the physical health but also provide “purgation” to their mind.  Parents will also have to keep their anxieties and worrier under control and not to transfer them to their wards.

For the last few years, the phenomenon of ‘suicides’ has become very frequent and common among students.  It is a direct outcome of either the peer pressure or the negligence of parents who think that their responsibility ends after giving a hefty sum as pocket money & providing mobile and motorbike.

Poor performance” in exams and the ‘school pressure’ are commonly cited as the causes of these suicides but this is a myth.  Good schools never exert any pressure on children; rather the teachers always motivate their students and extend a helping hand.  School and teachers do not condemn children for their poor performance.  There can be psychological reasons and problems related to tense relations between parents and children; children and their friends and teenage problems.  Many a time, the parents have to be advised in the “Parent Teacher Meeting” not to overestimate their child and overlook his real potential. 

I am sure that if the parents are a little more vigilant about the changes in the behaviour of their children; make a heart to heart talk with their children a regular feature of their daily / weekly routine and are smart enough to sense what is going on in their peer group, this tide of suicides can be stemmed successfully. 

Finally, I would say that a good parent can contribute tremendously in widening his child’s mental vision, enlarging his wisdom by questioning, teaching and acknowledging his confidence and courage to step out in life.  Let’s always keep in mind the words of Hodding Carter, Jr.


There are two lasting bequests we can give our children.

One is roots.  The other is wings.”